Leadership, cheap talk and really cheap talk

David M Levy, Kail Padgitt, Sandra Peart, Daniel Edward Houser, Erte Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research offers compelling evidence that leaders suffice to effect efficiency-enhancements on cooperation, yet the source of this effect remains unclear. To investigate whether leadership effects can be attributed exclusively to the common information that leaders provide to a group, irrespective of the source of that information, we design a public goods game in which non-binding contribution suggestions originate with either a human or computer leader. We find that group members decisions are significantly influenced by human leaders non-binding contribution suggestions, both when the leader is elected as well as when the leader is randomly chosen. A leader s suggestion becomes an upper bound for group member s contributions. Identical suggestions do not impact the group members decisions when they originate with a computer, thus supporting to the view that information provided by human leaders is uniquely able to establish welfare-enhancing norms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40 - 52
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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